(August 31, 2022 / JNS) Six Jewish community organizations in Colorado have now twice called on the University of Denver to condemn one of its professors who claimed that Israel’s Mossad was “likely” behind the stabbing of novelist Salman Rushdie on Aug. 12.
Associate professor Nader Hashemi, also director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the university, made the link to the attack during a podcast guest appearance.
In a statement on Aug. 25, several Jewish organizations said they were “dismayed and angry” at Hashemi’s claims and asked the university to denounce the professor’s remarks, which they called “damaging rhetoric masquerading as a legitimate opinion, and completely ungrounded in fact.”
“Hashemi’s perverse supposition is yet another example in a long history of falsely blaming and scapegoating Jews for intervening in international affairs in manipulative and violent ways for nefarious gains,” said the group, which includes members of Hillel of Colorado, the Mountain States Anti-Defamation League, JEWISHcolorado, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Rocky Mountain Rabbis and Cantors, and the Mountain States American Jewish Committee.
“Such statements put our Jewish students, who already face unprecedented campus anti-Semitism across the country, at further risk,” they stressed.
In its own statement last week—prior to the one released by the Jewish groups—the university pointed out that Hashemi “spoke as an individual faculty member and does not speak for the university.”
“While we wholeheartedly respect academic freedom and freedom of speech, his comments do not reflect the point of view of the university, nor are we aware of any facts that support this view,” said the school. “The safety of every speaker and every student on our campus, and all campuses, is critical to our society. We condemn the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. And it goes without saying that we remain committed to assuring that the experience of our Jewish students, faculty and staff is safe, supportive, respectful and welcoming.”
The Jewish groups said on Monday that the university’s statement does not go far enough. They again called upon officials to condemn Hashemi’s claims and “issue a stronger statement immediately, to post it, and to distribute it widely and publicly.”
They further noted that “as American society is pulled further and further apart by pundits spreading misinformation, academia in general and the University of Denver specifically needs to model for its students a higher standard—one that teaches that with an academic platform comes great responsibility, that freedom of speech is never absolute, and that actions have consequences.”
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